Hiya guys, we have Jackie Nacht popping in today with her upcoming release Shoulder Season, we have a brilliant guest post from Jackie and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
Two young men from two different countries find a common language as they recover from broken hearts and broken bones. Can they rebuild their lives together?
Ben’s boyfriend has not only dumped him, he’s also cancelled their mutual travel plans. Since Ben has the time off and the money saved up, he decides to travel anyway, and based on a last-minute, very inexpensive red-eye airline fare, ends up in Reykjavik, Iceland.
He’s ill-prepared for the weather and knows nothing about the country, so he considers flying home the next day. Except his new neighbor, Solvin, a local Icelander who is currently on leave from work due to a car accident, shows up with a cane and shoulder sling and literally falls into Ben’s apartment. It’s the beginning of an adventure that might show Ben how good life can be… and that coming home sometimes means traveling halfway around the world.
Hello MM Good Book Reviews, and thank you for having me on your blog! I’m excited to share about my new release with Dreamspinner, a book called Shoulder Season. The impetus behind the book is pretty straightforward. I heard about Dreamspinner’s Cities of Love and Worlds of Love series, where authors pick a city or country and then write a romance novella in that location. As I love to travel, it was a perfect fit. Luckily Iceland, which is on my bucket list, was not taken so I signed up pretty fast.
I’ve never been to Iceland, but from what I’ve read and seen on the Internet, it seems like a wide open country with lots of fresh air. I might be totally stereotyping Iceland, which probably has the same issues about traffic and noise and politics as any country does, but when I look at the pictures, these don’t seem important. It looks like a country where you could go to sort yourself out while standing on the top of a tree-less hillside with the wind in your hair.
With this in mind, I came up with the character of Ben, who is looking for a new start. His boyfriend broke up with him, you see, just as he and Ben were about to head out to a lovely vacation together.
Ben’s never been to Iceland either, so since the tickets were so inexpensive, he booked a flight there, sight unseen. Through his eyes, and his experiences, I got to go to Iceland and have pancakes and good coffee and smell the fresh air and the cool wind from the North Pole, and yes, buy an Icelandic Sweater, as well as go to the famous Black Beach. I did quite a lot of research on all of those things, so that when I go to Iceland myself one day, I’ll have my list of got-to-see, and would-love-to-experience already ready!
Since I write about characters who are a little broken and a little lost and looking for home, I developed Ben, who is just coming down from a bad breakup. Perhaps his reasons for being with his boyfriend, Alex couldn’t bear much scrutiny, as Alex came from old money and was willing to shell out the cash so that Ben and Alex could have a good time. But as time went on Alex became embarrassed by Ben, who is a working class guy, and broke up with him. Ben is devastated but undaunted and determines to soldier on without Alex and go on vacation anyway. Thus, when Ben arrives in Iceland, alone, and without really any idea what he’s doing there.
I enjoyed coming up with a citizen of Iceland for Ben to fall in love with, and yes, Solvin (Mr. Icelandic God) is a big of a stereotype too, as he’s tall, blonde, and handsome, with perfect teeth. Then the truth comes out: Solvin is a shy homebody who likes a quiet life and all his friends have moved to the continent. He’s been in a car accident, but stubborn and independent, insists on relying on nobody but himself.
Are Ben and Solvin a perfect match? I don’t know if any couple is a perfect match, but I believe Ben and Solvin are a good match, as they each provide the other with something they need. And it was fun to develop their relationship in to one where they talk through misunderstandings, and agree to compromise. (I prefer romance without any false drama, you see.) Plus they both love to eat, which, as anyone who has read my books knows, I love to write about food!
Through taking care of Solvin (at least as much as Solvin will allow) Ben is able to focus on something other than his own troubles. And in Ben, Solvin discovers a fellow homebody who loves the quiet pleasures in life. Proving, of course, that even if we come from different countries, we are not all that different.
BEN PUT his duffel bag and his backpack on the sensibly brown and square couch and went over to the radiator beneath the window to turn it on. Just as he opened the curtain to catch the last of the daylight, he heard a loud thump from next door. The thump was followed by a crash, and Ben’s head came up as he listened. Through the wall, and perhaps only because Ben was listening, he heard a low moan; the Icelandic god had fallen. Without thinking about it, Ben raced out the door and, with only a light tap, let himself in.
The Icelandic god was on the floor in an ungainly sprawl, his hands splayed out as if he’d tried to stop himself but forgot both the cane and the arm sling and thus probably injured himself more than he’d helped.
“Hey,” said Ben. He knew how to say “hello” and “takk fyrir,” but neither of those would work in this situation. Kneeling down, he moved the cane out of the way and then found the Icelandic god looking at him. His eyes were as blue as the bluest sky, and the pink flush to his cheeks told Ben he was embarrassed and trying not to be.
“I don’t speak Icelandic,” said Ben, helplessly falling into using a loud voice, as if that would help the words translate themselves. “But can I help you up? Are you hurt?” With emphatic hand gestures, Ben reached out, trying to telegraph what he was going to do.
“Lucky for you,” said the Icelandic god in that particularly sharp-edged way Ben had heard other Icelanders speak English, “I speak English very well, and no, I’m not hurt, but—”
The reason for the hesitation was obvious to Ben. Mr. Icelandic God had ripped his trousers in the fall, from calf to hip, exposing a good bit of a strong, well-shaped thigh. He didn’t want to get up because he was modest, or seemed to be.
“I won’t look,” said Ben, and he meant it. “Just let me help you, or are you hurt? Can I call an ambulance?”
“No,” said the Icelandic god. “I mean, yes, you can help me, but there’s no need for an ambulance. I’ve had worse.”
What was worse was whatever accident the man had been in to cause him to need a cane and a sling, so he probably knew what he was talking about. With careful hands, Ben helped the Icelandic god to the sofa, keeping his eyes averted from any exposed swath of skin, and when the man was settled on the couch, he stepped back.
Ben looked at the sprawl of Icelandic god on the sofa and felt somehow short and ugly in comparison. Yes, he was almost six feet, and not bad-looking, and Alan used to love running his fingers through Ben’s almost black hair, which he called witch-weed, though that had been in the beginning. Toward the end, Alan had started wondering aloud when Ben was going to get a haircut.
“Can I—” Ben paused, not sure how his offer would be taken.
All the Icelandic people he’d talked to (three, including the taxi driver) had spoken English very well, were amused or pleased at his attempts to say his one Icelandic phrase, and none of them seemed inclined to want to get to know him beyond that. Whether that was Ben’s own personality (obviously off-putting on account of he was American, and his country’s reputation preceded him) or because Icelanders were a naturally reserved people, he didn’t know. Nevertheless he didn’t want to put his foot wrong from the first step. At the very least he could wait until he’d taken several more.
“Can I pick up your groceries or anything? Here—”
Ben took control of the situation, not waiting for permission, bent, and started gathering up supplies. There wasn’t a lot, just what a single man who couldn’t haul very much had bought: ground coffee beans, cream, a small packet of brown bread, two little containers of yogurt, a stick of butter, and a squat jar of what looked like very expensive honey. He arranged everything on the counter and then saw the two prescription bottles that had rolled beneath the table. With no dignity whatsoever, Ben retrieved them and placed them on the counter.
When he turned around, Mr. Icelandic God was looking at him with a smile that seemed a bit forced and he had the same pink flush of embarrassment he’d had before. Ben thought he might know how Mr. God felt, for there had been more than one occasion when Alan had insisted loudly, for all to hear, that Ben couldn’t possibly pick up the tab on his mechanic’s salary, and that Alan would take care of everything. Ben had hated that helpless feeling every single time, and he wouldn’t want to wish that on anyone.
“Hey, it doesn’t matter,” said Ben. “I was going to go to the grocery store anyway, just to see what it looked like, and here I get a nice close-up of the labels, all in Icelandic.”
“I’m supposed to have paid a taxi driver or someone to fetch anything I wanted,” said the Icelandic god, a little defensively. “But I wanted fresh air, and so I went myself.”
The Icelandic god seemed stubborn about this and at the same time had pressed himself against the couch as if he thought Ben might scold him for his temerity. As if Ben would; had he been trapped in his apartment overly long, he would have done the same.
“I hear you,” said Ben. “Seriously. I’d go crazy if I had to walk with a cane. Hey, there’re pills here. Do you need one? Or both?”
“Both,” said the Icelandic god. “But please don’t fuss.”
“I won’t fuss,” said Ben, because that much was clear. He wasn’t the fussing type, anyway, though he was starting to wonder where were any of the man’s friends or his family to help take care of him, especially when he could barely walk. “Where are the glasses—?”
Ben didn’t quite want to start going through the Icelandic god’s cupboards without permission, what with how close to making a fuss getting someone a glass of water to take their pills with was.
“To the right of the sink,” said the Icelandic god.
“My name is Ben, by the way,” said Ben, as he started looking for the glasses.
“Been?” asked the Icelandic god, his brows coming together as he seemed to search some internal English dictionary for the right reference. “You’ve been where?”
“It’s Ben. It’s short for my first name, which is Benjamin. I’m Benjamin Walters.”
“Ben it is, then,” said the Icelandic god with a kind of graciousness that seemed to dispense an approval of a sort. “My name is Solvin Dagur, and try the cupboard one over.”
“Takk fyrir,” said Ben, glad that the introductions were over so easily.
Jackie North has been writing stories since grade school and spent years absorbing the mainstream romances that she found at her local grocery store. Her dream was to someday leave her corporate day job behind and travel the world. She also wanted to put her English degree to good use and write romance novels, because for years she’s had a never-ending movie of made-up love stories in her head that simply wouldn’t leave her alone.
As fate would have it, she discovered m/m romance and decided that men falling in love with other men was exactly what she wanted to write books about. In this dazzling new world, she turned her grocery-store romance ideas around and is now putting them to paper as fast as her fingers can type. She creates characters who are a bit flawed and broken, who find themselves on the edge of society, and maybe a few who are a little bit lost, but who all deserve a happily ever after. (And she makes sure they get it!)
She likes long walks on the beach, the smell of lavender and rainstorms, and enjoys sleeping in on snowy mornings. She is especially fond of pizza and beer and, when time allows, long road trips with soda fountain drinks and rock and roll music. In her heart, there is peace to be found everywhere, but since in the real world this isn’t always true, Jackie writes for love.